A relic of the Wood of the True Cross.
As we know, 3rd May, was the old Feast of the finding of the Holy Cross. Back in the 1970s it was fashionable to attempt to erode and destroy the faith of the Catholic people by telling them that there are now so many relics of the True Cross to be found in the world, that if they were all brought together in one place, there would be far more wood than the Cross of Jesus Christ could possibly have been constructed from. The conclusion that these rationalistic destroyers of Faith wish you to draw, is that much of the wood claimed to be of the True Cross, is in fact counterfeit and not really the True Cross at all. Having heard this, how could you ever know if the relic you have before you is real nor not? Perhaps it is a piece of the True Cross, but then again, perhaps it is also one of the medieval forgeries the above mentioned wise professors have told us about? How could you know?
Well fortunately there is an answer. It would appear that the purveyors of these dangerous ideas had neglected to study what the Fathers of the Church had to say on the matter. Let us turn our eyes to St Paulinus of Nola.
Paulinus was born of rich and noble parents at Bordeaux, France in the year 354 AD. Remember that this is but 42 years since the battle of Milvian Bridge during which the Emperor Constantine saw a vision of the Cross in the sky with the words “In hoc signo vinces”, In this sign, conquer, and 31 years since the Edict of Milan, in which the Emperor Constantine freed the Christian religion from persecution within the Roman Empire. Paulinus’s family being a rich one with numerous estates throughout the empire, was given a broad education. Remarkably he was only 25 years old when he was made Suffect Consul by the Emperor Gratian, and at 28 he was made governor of the province of Campania.
The Roman Emperor Gratian.
After the death of his wife, Therasia, he was made bishop of Nola. St Paulinus received high praise from such great minds as St. Augustine, St. Jerome, St. Martin of Tours and St. Ambrose. By all this we can understand that St Paulinus of Nola was no fool. To rise so high in both the secular and ecclesiastical hierarchy demonstrates a sharp mind and sound judgment, not blown by every wind that might catch him. Knowing this we should not take lightly the words he addresses to Severus in his 32nd letter. Speaking of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem he writes:
|St Paulinus of Nola|
"Indeed this cross of inanimate wood has living power, and ever since its discovery has lent its wood to the countless, almost daily, prayers of men. Yet it suffers no diminution; though daily divided, it seems to remain whole to those who lift it, and always entire to those who venerate it. Assuredly it draws this power of incorruptibility, this undiminishing integrity, from the Blood of that Flesh which endured death yet did not see corruption.”